Author Archive | Good German

A Call to Militant Empathy

swong95765 (CC BY 2.0)

swong95765 (CC BY 2.0)

Peijman Kouretchian, writing at the Metta Center for Nonviolence, from December:

The streets look like war. Two NYPD police officers were just “assassinated” apparently as revenge for the Eric Garner chokehold death. This is the first major physical attack on actual police officers after the Ferguson riots ignited the #blacklivesmatter movement. Though this was just the act of one troubled person and doesn’t represent the mostly physically nonviolent movement that has been going on, it is absolutely paramount to be clear on what principles we are aligned with as we fight for justice.

Recently I became certified as a Kingian Nonviolence (a system of conflict reconciliation built on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) trainer. The protests bring to mind two important principles from what I learned:  “Avoid internal violence of the spirit, as well as external physical violence,” and “Attack systems of injustice, not individuals within those systems.”

When protests breakout there is often an abundance of rage.

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Days After Free Speech Rally, France Arrests 54 People for Offensive Speech

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Lauren McCauley writes at Common Dreams:

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre last week and just days since the historic Paris unity rally when world leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder and declared their support for freedom of speech, French authorities have arrested 54 people on charges of “glorifying” or “defending” terrorism.

The French Justice Ministry said that of those arrested, four are minors and several had already been convicted under special measures for immediate sentencing, AP reports. Individuals charged with “inciting terrorism” face a possible 5-year prison term, or up to 7 years for inciting terrorism online. None of those arrested have been linked to the attacks.

Controversial comic Dieudonné was one of those taken into custody Wednesday morning for a Facebook post in which he declared: “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”—merging the names of the satire magazine and Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four hostages at a kosher market on Friday.

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Slavoj Žižek on the Charlie Hebdo Massacre: Are the Worst Really Full of Passionate Intensity?

"Slavoj Zizek in Liverpool cropped" by Original photographer: Andy Miah , cropped by User:Michalis Famelis - Image:Slavoj Zizek in Liverpool.jpg in Wikimedia Commons, originally from flickr. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Slavoj Zizek in Liverpool cropped” by Original photographer: Andy Miah , cropped by User:Michalis Famelis – Image:Slavoj Zizek in Liverpool.jpg in Wikimedia Commons, originally from flickr. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Via the New Statesman:

Now, when we are all in a state of shock after the killing spree in the Charlie Hebdo offices, it is the right moment to gather the courage to think. We should, of course, unambiguously condemn the killings as an attack on the very substance our freedoms, and condemn them without any hidden caveats (in the style of “Charlie Hebdo was nonetheless provoking and humiliating the Muslims too much”). But such pathos of universal solidarity is not enough – we should think further.

Such thinking has nothing whatsoever to do with the cheap relativisation of the crime (the mantra of “who are we in the West, perpetrators of terrible massacres in the Third World, to condemn such acts”).

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Helric Fredou, Charlie Hebdo Lead Investigator, Took Own Life Hours After Attack

Via Al Arabiya News:

A French police officer who was in charge of investigating last week’s attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead took his own life after the massacre, French television channel France 3 reported.

Helric Fredou reportedly shot himself on Wednesday in his police office in the west-central city of Limoges with his service weapon.

The 45-year-old commissioner was found dead by one of his colleagues shortly after he had met with the family of a victim of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

He reportedly killed himself while preparing the report.

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What Everyone Gets Wrong about Charlie Hebdo and Racism

Max Fisher writes at Vox:

Over the past week, millions of people who had never heard of French magazine Charlie Hebdo have come into contact with its controversial covers and cartoons. And many have come away with questions about those cartoons, including a nagging sense that their depictions of Islam and people of color have been insensitive, or even racist.

Some argue that any questioning of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons implies sympathy with the terrorists or is tantamount to criticism of free speech itself, but this is a fallacy. We, as a society, have all agreed that there can never be any justification for such an attack and that free speech is an irreducible value. That question has been answered.

But an entirely separate set of questions still stand: are Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons racist? Did they go a step beyond satire and become something uglier?

What Charlie Hebdo’s critics get wrong about its satire

This October 2014 cover reads

This October 2014 cover reads “Boko Haram’s sex slaves are angry.” The women are shouting, “Don’t touch our welfare!” (Charlie Hebdo)

To broach this question, it helps to start with a cover that is not specifically about Islam — we’ll get to that later — and that has been widely circulated among Charlie Hebdo’s non-French critics as one of the magazine’s most obviously racist.

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Ritual Circumcision Linked to Increased Risk of Autism in Young Boys

hepingting (CC BY-SA 2.0)

hepingting (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

Research published today by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggests that circumcised boys are more likely than intact boys to develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD) before the age of 10. Risk is particularly high for infantile autism before the age of five. The research was carried out in Denmark among a cohort of all children born between 1994 and 2003. During the study over 340,000 boys were followed up to the age of nine between 1994 and 2013 and almost 5,000 cases of ASD were diagnosed. The study showed that regardless of cultural background circumcised boys may run a greater risk of developing ASD. The researchers also made an unexpected observation of an increased risk of hyperactivity disorder among circumcised boys in non-Muslim families.

Professor Morten Frisch of the Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, who led the research, said: “Our investigation was prompted by the combination of recent animal findings linking a single painful injury to lifelong deficits in stress response and a study showing a strong, positive correlation between a country’s neonatal male circumcision rate and its prevalence of ASD in boys.”

Today it is considered unacceptable practice to circumcise boys without proper pain relief but none of the most common interventions used to reduce circumcision pain completely eliminates it and some boys will endure strongly painful circumcisions.

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In Solidarity With a Free Press: Some More Blasphemous Cartoons

Glenn Greenwald writes at the Intercept:

Central to free speech activism has always been the distinction between defending the right to disseminate Idea X and agreeing with Idea X, one which only the most simple-minded among us are incapable of comprehending. One defends the right to express repellent ideas while being able to condemn the idea itself. There is no remote contradiction in that: the ACLU vigorously defends the right of neo-Nazis to march through a community filled with Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Illinois, but does not join the march; they instead vocally condemn the targeted ideas as grotesque while defending the right to express them.

Some of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo were not just offensive but bigoted, such as the one mocking the African sex slaves of Boko Haram as welfare queens (left). Others went far beyond maligning violence by extremists acting in the name of Islam, or even merely depicting Mohammed with degrading imagery (above, right), and instead contained a stream of mockery toward Muslims generally, who in France are not remotely powerful but are largely a marginalized and targeted immigrant population.
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Resisting the Plague: The French Reactionary Right and Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty

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Constance Spreen, writing in Modern Language Quarterly 64.1, from 2003:

During a lengthy, hostile divorce from the surrealist circle in 1926, Antonin Artaud reiterated his eschewal of political engagement in the most vigorous terms. The surrealists’ attempt to graft their spiritual revolution onto Marxist materialism was for him a deleterious deviation from the ideological position that, with Artaud’s participation, those gathered around André Breton had developed the previous year. Demanding a reassertion of the surrealist commitment to “total idealism” [idéalisme intégral], Artaud reaffirmed his qualms before all real action: “My scruples are absolute” (1:71, 66). 1

Despite his uncompromising stance, Artaud found himself profoundly engaged in the “politics of style.” 2 As he began to publish his writings on the theater of cruelty in the early 1930s, he became acutely aware of a “resistance” to his dramaturgical theories. His correspondence reveals that this resistance, to which he repeatedly refers, issued mainly from two sources: the critics at L’action française, the primary mouthpiece of the movement bearing the same name, and Benjamin Crémieux, drama and literary critic at the Nouvelle revue française (NRF).

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